Sentenced to Death, Dog of War is Adopted by the Woman Who Saved Him

A dog born in the harsh deserts of Afghanistan is enjoying a new life on American soil after being adopted by the woman who saved him from death.

A dog born in the harsh deserts of Afghanistan is enjoying a new life on American soil after being adopted by the woman who saved him from death.

Bear, a 1-and-a-half year old mutt, has a new home in Arlington, Virginia. He was born on a United States Marine base in Helmand Province after his mother was taken in by US troops who took him out on patrol and fed him scraps from MREs.

Holly Barnes was deployed in the region as a civilian contractor and says she fell head-over-heels in love with the young pup when she met him. “I was just drawn to him immediately,” Barnes said.

Which is why she was devastated when she heard that central command had found dogs on the base to be a distraction, and ordered that Bear and three other dogs be put down. She contacted the base and pleaded for a pardon: she was too late to save one dog that had already been destroyed, but the Marines agreed to let her fly the remaining dogs to a Nowzad shelter in Kabul, where they lived for 6 months until she was able to return to the US.

Barnes worked tirelessly with volunteers and the Soldiers’ Animal Companion Fund to find homes for all of the dogs, and the money necessary to fly them home. Her greatest reward came recently when Bear touched down in the US. She says the unlikely survivor finds joy in the simplest pleasures.

She also says the two have become best friends. “To watch him later that night feel grass for the first time…it was like a dream come true,” Barnes said. “He really has become the center of my world.”

Barnes said she plans to have Bear certified as a therapy dog to help returning troops adjust to life at home.

“He’s the best therapy I could have had,” she said. “I think we’re both meant to be together.”

100 thoughts on “Sentenced to Death, Dog of War is Adopted by the Woman Who Saved Him

  1. You restore my faith in humanity. Thank you for your tireless efforts to rescue these beautiful souls!

  2. Awesome!! So touching! So glad there are still some decent caring human beings left in this sometimes too cruel world! So happy for bear and the others!

  3. Sad that she wasn’t in time to save Bear’s littermate… but happy that Bear, his mom, and one of his pother littermates now have happy and safe homes here! Yaaay Holly!

  4. There’s an organization that helps raise funds to bring the dogs to the US . . . Puppy Rescue Mission; they have a fb page.

    1. Joy – The organizations that helped bring Bear and friend to the US are Nowzad ( and Soldiers’ Animal Companion (SAC) Fund — Nowzad is actually the original organization that started the whole soldiers’ rescues in Afghan. They are similar to PRM, but have a bigger mission to also help animals within Afghan — they actually run an animal shelter and clinic and also work with “working” animals such as horses and donkeys. They are truly amazing, check them out.

  5. Humans are so quick to euthanize rather than make other humane arrangements. Makes me sick. Good for you Holly for putting your foot down and protecting those fuzzy four legged beings from the wrath of inhumane humans.

  6. It’s outrageous that we leave those dogs there after they’ve served us so courageously. BRING EM ALL HOME- I know they’ll be adopted…

  7. Awesome! this warms my heart and gives me hope that humans can be compassionate! happy bear is finally in a forever home!

  8. Holly Barnes, and others like her, are the kinds of people most of us wish we could have as a friend and neighbor.

  9. Oh my!! I am so happy to have her save that dog! I hate seeing death of the dogs for no reason. So stupid!!!! Save dogs and cats. whew!!

  10. At Mary Spalvieri: they kill them because it costs money to bring them back home . Money for flying them back and shots. It is ” easier” to kill them. Horrible but true. You see, the military use them and when no longer needed, they dispose of them. I support an organization that fundraise cost to fly them back, along with the stray ones that service members rescue and bond to. Those animals are faithful to them and feel in that void for being away from loved ones.

  11. My friend had a pup sent home last year from Kuwait and he is such a great dog!!!! The vet on post neutered him and gave him all if his shots and everything he needed to go home 🙂

  12. I love happy, happy, happy endings; in this case beginnings! Bless you Holly for saving this wonderful dog, Bear. He’ll have a wonderful, happy forever loving home for the rest of his life! Kudos! I wish this happened more often.

  13. Love this…cannot believe that someone could order that these beautful animals should be put down…what’s wrong with people???

  14. I wish I could hit a like button a million times for this…look how much he adores her…and vice versa.

    1. Kelly, I too am thinking of Wicca and her heartbroken human tonight.

      I am stunned that once again another dog has been executed for no justifiable reason. Only someone who has never understood or loved a dog deeply could cast such a thoughtless judgement on a dog that really committed no crime. “A scratch?” That is justification for death? Really? How do we as sane, critically thinking individuals not rise up and demand these people be removed from positions of public trust? How do we not strip them of any chance to make any decisions for anyone or anything ever again?

      I am outraged by the pain and torment these ignorant, callous officials have inflicted on dog owners. The thing is, this injustice could happen to anyone of us and the public’s general complacency will allow those in positions of power to spread like a cancer.

  15. Saw on the program last year “Dogs With Jobs”, heartbreaking stories of Marines who served in Vietnam had to leave their dog “partners” trained for land mines, etc….The US govt would not let them bring them home – killed them – Hundreds – after “saving” so many marines! Broke many a soldier’s heart & messed up lives even further! That’s how USA rolls baby…still killing and dumping!

  16. So happy, and yet also so sad. Feel great for Bear, his Mom , and another Dog, who made it to the states to start a new life. but deep sorrow for Bear’s litter mate who was put down 🙁

  17. WHAT R u say the Marine were going to euthanize these dogs? what for? ru kidding me The Marine corps was going to do this For shame on you Guys. I thought these dog who served with US military always goes to handlers families then to those who train them as puppies………to kill our four legged soldiers should be out cry to the dog community and to the nation. How many other dogs have gone to be EUTHANIZED that served our country without any regards to them selves. US Marines I am so Disappointed with you!!!!!

    1. Carole – These actually aren’t military dogs. Just stray Afghan dogs that befriend service men and women. Not that it makes this less bad, but just wanted to clarify that. Also, the article doesn’t go into detail, but not all bases enforce this policy. And, it’s not just the Marines – it’s a Coalition Forces policy.

  18. @Kelly Lee…I can’t get on the site…it’s saying something went wrong. Please take a look & see if it can be fixed. I so agree with u & this cause. Thanks

  19. Follow “Puppy Rescue Mission” this is what they do, save dogs that military men and women take care of while on a mission in Afghanistan

  20. our four legged soldiers deserved better then to be euthanized… THANK YOU for those who have kind heart and saves these guys…..My heart felt thank you for caring….GOD bless you and your Bear…. May you always have happy life together and forever.

  21. What an amazing woman she is! Thank God these loving dogs now know what a loving, nurturing home is all about with people who love them more than life itself!!!!!

  22. May God bless you for your service and your love of Bear and the other dogs. You are a blessing indeed

  23. To the officer that made this “Command Decision”: You, Sir, are a moron!

    The armed forces pay a fortune every year to provide your soldiers with morale raising “distractions” – here you have ones that cost nothing yet provide a tremendous emotional support to those of your personnel that are open to them. And your response? Kill them and add another trauma for those that have become attached to them as a link to normality. What next – shoot the Padre? Blow up the USO?

    I will say it again in case you missed it – You, Sir, are a moron! Thank you Holly.

  24. Wonderful woman for saving those poor dogs.

    Whoever is part of “Central Command” has no conscience…deciding to euthanize four young dogs because they’re a distraction???? NO respect for life!!!!

  25. I hate that the governmetnt is so cruel. Why are the dogs a distraction? They help the soldiers feel better and they are free. Well I am glad that Bear, his mother, and another dog were saved. I hope the military rethinks this cruel practice.

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